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Share your thoughts on the latest Design Probe, Microbial Home.

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I was able to glance at this on core77.com for a few seconds. I need to read it properly later but it is a gorgeously executed concept. Was this designed (/styled) by a Philips in-house design team?

Hi Sarah,

yes, this project was designed by the Philips design probes department, you can read more about Philips design probes here. If you have more questions on the probes team or the Microbial Home concept then this is the place.

As much as the idea is great and educating the public is important. Those of us who have been in this space for any length of time have been implementing this philosophy for years in a practical hands on way. The technology is not new and is not overly complicated but does need to be maintained. It is not an out of sight out of mind application and if anybody thinks it is they are deluding themselves

 I have been in this space since the seventies.

 

Hi Ian,

having worked on this project, I obviously also believe it is not an 'out of sight out of mind' application, there are several places where parts of systems like this are already running, one major inspiration was the Sulabh foundation in India. Most of the technology actually goes back a long, long way, what was important for us was to extend the system so that it also for example could involve alternative lighting and alternative ways of cooling/food preservation and waste upcycling. Could you share some examples of the 'practical hands on way' you mention?


Ian Cleland said:

As much as the idea is great and educating the public is important. Those of us who have been in this space for any length of time have been implementing this philosophy for years in a practical hands on way. The technology is not new and is not overly complicated but does need to be maintained. It is not an out of sight out of mind application and if anybody thinks it is they are deluding themselves

 I have been in this space since the seventies.

 

Gorgeous Idea would love to buy it - but I guess if its ever build for the general public it will be out of my reach - which happens to most of these concepts. :( Would be nice to have build plans and open source it to really have an impact on earth and then people who can´t afford it can build it themselves - maybe substituting certain parts with stuff they have laying around or that is cheaper.

Hi falk,

I think that the opposite will happen if this will be build for the general public, look for instance at the history of the mobile phone, from exclusive concept to mass product in less than 20 years. But the idea of open sourcing is indeed very interesting, there is another post on this website 'open source ecology' which relates to that and is of specific interest to us.

Most of the techniques have actually been existing for a long time, so instead of focussing on the technology or on how to build it, which can be done in numeral ways, the main focus and breakthrough will have to take place in the 'biological domain', how can we make a digester more efficient?

fALk said:
Gorgeous Idea would love to buy it - but I guess if its ever build for the general public it will be out of my reach - which happens to most of these concepts. :( Would be nice to have build plans and open source it to really have an impact on earth and then people who can´t afford it can build it themselves - maybe substituting certain parts with stuff they have laying around or that is cheaper.
I saw that it was possible to win a book on the Microbial Home if one signed up during Dutch Design Week.  I missed that timeline.  Is it possible to buy a copy of the book?  Is there a version in English?  It's probably transparently obvious by now that I am a designer who is also an educator.  The kitchen is beautiful.  I would love to explore the rest of the house.  Thanks for more information.

Eric,

I have been involved in the designing and construction of passive solar and energy efficient since the end of the seventies. The recycling of all our wastes has always been a concern to me. One of the best systems is in wet land filtration which   is the cheapest in terms of capital costs and is scalable but does need land to do so. Otherwise there is very degrees of commercial passive systems but they have to be manufactured.

I have worked in sewerage and water treatment plants over the last 15 years and when it comes to community plants as you probably know the system you design is dependent of what your waste streams (chemical composition) are and concentrations (that is ratios of water to waste). Many old sewerage system no longer work properly because of changes in the composition of the waste stream and also the dumping of  in appropriate chemical into the system (generally illegal dumping by industry).

There is also the issue of excessive use of potable water, which is a very valuable resource, So a system that uses less water or grey water is also a better system in terms of sustainable design.

So to have a system work at all there is a lot to consider be it a small or large system. A total system would note have waste with all components being recycled, that is cradle to cradle.

Great concept: back to the basics! Wonderful design. The question: how to make it feasible for real consumers.

Hi Deborah,


the book is in English and is actually a sort of 'process/sketchbook' on the project, not sure if it will be on sale, but I willkeep you posted if I know more on this.


Deborah Brooks said:

I saw that it was possible to win a book on the Microbial Home if one signed up during Dutch Design Week.  I missed that timeline.  Is it possible to buy a copy of the book?  Is there a version in English?  It's probably transparently obvious by now that I am a designer who is also an educator.  The kitchen is beautiful.  I would love to explore the rest of the house.  Thanks for more information.

Hi Ian,

thank you for your reply, wet land filtration is indeed a very good and interesting sytem, I know that a part of the team looked at this while designing the filters for the toilet. This was also why the Sulabh Foundation was of interest, because they developed a toilet that flushes with 1 liter of water instead of the average western standard of 6-8 liters. The constant supply and chemical composition of waste is indeed a technological or rather a biological challenge, which is a matter of time. Changing attitudes will be the biggest breakthrough in this. Recently I stumbled upon this article on biogas in Nigeria which is quite interesting. 

 

Ian Cleland said:

Eric,

I have been involved in the designing and construction of passive solar and energy efficient since the end of the seventies. The recycling of all our wastes has always been a concern to me. One of the best systems is in wet land filtration which   is the cheapest in terms of capital costs and is scalable but does need land to do so. Otherwise there is very degrees of commercial passive systems but they have to be manufactured.

I have worked in sewerage and water treatment plants over the last 15 years and when it comes to community plants as you probably know the system you design is dependent of what your waste streams (chemical composition) are and concentrations (that is ratios of water to waste). Many old sewerage system no longer work properly because of changes in the composition of the waste stream and also the dumping of  in appropriate chemical into the system (generally illegal dumping by industry).

There is also the issue of excessive use of potable water, which is a very valuable resource, So a system that uses less water or grey water is also a better system in terms of sustainable design.

So to have a system work at all there is a lot to consider be it a small or large system. A total system would note have waste with all components being recycled, that is cradle to cradle.

Hi Mariël,

a very good question and of course a question that get's asked quite often. I think this question is incapsulated within this project, in means that it is first of all a design provocation to raise awareness and generate feedback. As with all possible 'future' concepts, the question is not so much about will it work or can we make it work but about a change in attitude that will have to make it happen. If you have any thoughts on this, feel free to share them.

Mariël Koerhuis said:

Great concept: back to the basics! Wonderful design. The question: how to make it feasible for real consumers.

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